Consumer Strike

There is something we can all do to save the planet:
stop buying and stop flying.

How do we get out of this mess?

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the challenges facing humanity today. Even though the dangers from pollution, loss of biodiversity, and climate change are becoming more obvious by the day, we are still trying to square the circle by promoting economic growth and pretending to care about the environment. The time has come to pull the economic emergency brake to stop this madness.

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GDP = Global Destruction of the Planet

There is a very strong correlation between global GDP (gross domestic product) and environmental destruction. This is not surprising considering that most of our economic activities (manufacturing, travel, food production, …) require energy and non-renewable resources. On the other hand, the richer we get, the more we tend to consume. Thus, when G20 leaders agree to a target of +2% economic growth, while simultaneously signing an agreement to limit global warming to less than +2°C, they are either lying or clueless. Either way, it proves that we cannot expect politicians to get us out of the mess we are in.

What to do? We need a peaceful, legal, and scalable method to put pressure on corporations and governments to act. The most efficient way is to show them that they will lose money by sticking to the old system.

The Consumer Strike is based on the following ideas

  1. We need a legal form of protest, which many people can engage in.
  2. Participation in the protest should bring immediate personal benefits.
  3. The protest needs to harm corporate profits.
  4. A large fraction on the world economy is based on unnecessary private consumption.
  5. The world economy is also suffering from a great debt burden.

Politicians worldwide are addicted to growth, as it is the only way to keep the debt bubble from exploding. A sharp reduction of global GDP would probably crash the financial system. Since voters would not accept another big bank bailout and most governments do not have enough money anyway, more drastic actions would be needed. Banks might be too big to fail, but they are never too big to be nationalized.

What would happen if enough of us decided to stop shopping? We simply decide that we actually do not need anything for the next 12 months, apart from some food. Rather than wasting our time with shopping, we could stay at home with the family, cook something with friends, or read a good book. This would be perfectly legal – nobody is forced to buy anything – and would leave us more relaxed and satisfied with life.

Currently, hundreds of billions are invested in marketing each year, turning us into mindless consumers. The Internet is basically a big marketing machine, designed to influence our purchasing behavior and allow us to shop with a single mouse click. We are enslaved by materialism, hoping that if we only earn enough and consume enough, true happiness lies around the corner. Would it not be nice to feel like a full human being again, rather than a mindless shopping bot?

I have already decided to ditch materialism and I do feel a lot better, as it allows me to appreciate what is really valuable in life. You can do it too – and you can start tomorrow. If enough of us join in, global capitalism will fall into the debt trap it dug for itself.